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An Inclusive View of What It Actually Means to Be Neurodiverse

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If I could assign a sound to the following graphic, it would be the squeaky record scratch, which is movie shorthand for a sudden interruption.  I would pair the drawing and this sound because it is exactly what happened to me when I first came across it. I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram until… record abruptly stops… I wasn’t.

Graphic of "Neurodivergent Umbrella" from the Lived Experience Educator

Art by Sonny Jane of @livedexperienceeducator on Instagram

If you’re having a record scratch moment of your own, it’s OK, I understand.

What is it about this graphic that makes you pause? For me, I think the initial draw was the vibrant colors, but what actually caused me to slow down was the list underneath the umbrella. I came to a full stop when I spotted my disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). It was unexpected, but it also felt right.

This led me to the question: What does it actually mean to be neurodiverse?

Here’s what the Cambridge Dictionary has to say:

neurodivergent: having or related to a type of brain that is often considered as different from what is usual, for example that of someone who has autism.

Wow, wouldn’t that make a lot of people neurodiverse? I’d argue, that realization is exactly what the artist was going for, and they succeeded!

There will be those who feel this term doesn’t represent them. That’s OK! Yet, for the folks who do relate: having this realization can feel like a fresh start, and here’s why:

Compassion. The ability to say; I’m not broken, I’m just different.

Personally I struggle with those types of thoughts all the time! I feel like the world is not designed for me, that folks don’t understand my triggers, and like my nervous system doesn’t operate within the “norm.” I have those thoughts because when I’m not doing well, I convince myself that I’m somehow responsible for being the way that I am. Seeing myself represented under this umbrella can put a stop to that, by giving me a huge nudge towards accepting myself.

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to all of a sudden stop therapy, my medications, or that I won’t continue to learn and grow. I need to do those things in order to stay well! Instead it means that I can finally look up, see that I have a place, and that there is a community of diverse folks who surround me.

If seeing yourself as neurodiverse will have a similar effect, I encourage you to consider it. There is a lot of room for you under the umbrella… even if our record player is a little out of tune.

If you enjoyed this article, please take a moment to check out some of my other articles here on The Mighty. If you’d like to follow along with my journey, you can find me on Instagram as @mentalhealthyxe.

To see more great drawings or for more information on neurodiversity visit the Instagram of @livedexperienceeducator or check out their website located at

Getty image by Zbynek Pospisil

Originally published: January 13, 2022
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